Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, or Star Wars, as it’s known in my house, is a 1977 American epic space western film, written and directed by George Lucas. It is the first of six films released in the Star Wars saga: two subsequent films complete the original trilogy, while a prequel trilogy completes the six-film saga.
Groundbreaking in its use of special effects, unconventional editing, and science fiction/fantasy storytelling, the original Star Wars is one of the most successful and influential films of all time.
Produced with a budget of $11 million and released on May 25, 1977, the film earned $460 million in the United States and $337 million overseas, surpassing Jaws as the nominal highest-grossing film and remained that way until being surpassed 6 years later by E.T. the Extraterrestrial in 1983. When adjusted for inflation, it is the second highest grossing film in the USA and Canada as of 2010. Among the many awards the film received, it gained ten Academy Award nominations, winning six; the nominations included Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness and Best Picture.
Lucas has re-released the film on several occasions, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions are the 1997 Special Edition, the 2004 DVD release, and the 2011 Blu-ray release, which have awful, modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, and added scenes.
Birthday wishes are in order for Universal Pictures, which as widely noted is celebrating its centennial all year long. Founded by Carl Laemmle, Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. The studio sent out 100 facts about its history, which makes for a good read…. I’ve cut the list down to my favourite 50:
1. Universal Film Manufacturing Company was officially incorporated in New York on April 30, 1912. Company legend says Carl Laemmle was inspired to name his company Universal after seeing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon.
2. The only physical damage made during the filming of National Lampoon’s Animal House was when John Belushi made a hole in the wall with a guitar. The actual Sigma Nu fraternity house (which subbed for the fictitious Delta House) never repaired it, and instead framed the hole in honor of the film.
3. In the movie All Quiet on the Western Front, the Greek writing on the blackboard in the schoolroom is the beginning of Homer’s Odyssey: “Tell me, oh Muse, of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide.”
4. The word “dude” in The Big Lebowski is used approximately 161 times in the movie: 160 times spoken and once in text (in the credits for “Gutterballs” the second dream sequence). The F-word or a variation of the F-word is used 292 times. The Dude says “man” 147 times in the movie—that’s nearly 1.5 times a minute.
5. Back to the Future’s DeLorean time machine is actually a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says “OUTATIME,” the DeLorean’s actual license plate reads 3CZV657.
6. American Graffiti’s budget was exactly $777,777.77, and it was delivered on time – and on budget.
7. In the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird during the shooting of one sequence.
8. The Munster’s House on Colonial Street was originally built for the 1946 production, So Goes My Love.
9. The title of the movie Do The Right Thing comes from a Malcolm X quote: “You’ve got to do the right thing.”
10. According to reports, during some of the Russian roulette scenes in the movie The Deer Hunter, a live round was put into the gun to heighten the actors’ tension per Robert De Niro’s suggestion. It was checked, however, to make sure the bullet was not in the chamber before the trigger was pulled.
11. In the first scene of the movie Double Indemnity, when Walter first kisses Phyllis, there is a wedding ring on Walter’s hand. Fred MacMurray was married and the ring was not noticed until post-production.
12. When Bela Lugosi, star of the monster classic, Dracula, died in 1956, he was buried wearing a black silk cape similar to the one he wore in the film.
13. At 29,500 sq. ft., Universal Studios’ Stage 12 is the 7th largest soundstage in the world. It was originally built for the 1929 musical Broadway.
14. Carl Laemmle Jr. offered James Whale a list of more than 30 film adaptations he could direct and out of them all, Whale picked Frankenstein. It was his transition from war movies to monster pics.
15. Vans, the company behind the checkerboard shoes worn by Sean Penn (a.k.a. Jeff Spicoli) in the cult movie classic, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, became a national brand after the film’s release in 1982.
16. Actor Charlton Heston “parted” the Red Sea attraction on the Universal Studios Tour at the attraction’s grand opening in 1973.
17. The Universal sound technician, Jack Foley, developed the method of creating and recording many of the natural, everyday sound effects in a film. Today this method is named after him.
18. The legendary thriller and suspense director Alfred Hitchcock did not win any Academy Awards while working with Universal.
19. In the infamous shower scene in Psycho, the sound of the knife-stabbing actress Janet Leigh was made by plunging a knife into a melon.
20. The legendary studio head Irving Thalberg got his start in show business as Carl Laemmle’s personal secretary in 1917.
21. In 1995, Waterworld generated worldwide attention for being the most expensive film made to date. Unable to live up to expectations at the box office, the film eventually turned a profit due to strong home video sales and inspired one of the most popular theme park attractions of all time.
22. About 25% of the film Jaws was shot from water level so audiences could better relate to treading water.
23. In the film The Invisible Man, the director dressed Claude Rains in black velvet and filmed him against a black velvet background to create the effect that he wasn’t there.
24. Some of the props used in the 2005 version of King Kong were original props from the 1933 version. These props came from Peter Jackson’s personal collection and include the Skull Island spears and brightly painted shield, and some of the drums from the sacrifice scene.
25. In Jurassic Park, a guitar string was used to make the water ripple on the dash of the Ford Explorer by attaching it to the underside of the dash beneath the glass.
26. Universal entered the 3-D market with the film, It Came from Outer Space (1953)
27. Universal won its first Best Picture Academy Award for All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930.
28. Steven Spielberg nicknamed the mechanical shark in the movie Jaws, “Bruce.”
29. In the film The Incredible Shrinking Man, when Louise is on the phone asking for the operator, the music playing on the radio is the theme song to Written on the Wind, which was made at Universal the year prior.
30. It took two-and-a-half hours a day to apply Lon Chaney’s makeup in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
31. The first American film to show a toilet flushing on screen was Psycho.
32. In the film, Scarface, an M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher attached to the barrel is Tony’s “little friend.”
33. Alfred Hitchcock did not choose to conclude the film, The Birds, with the usual “THE END” title because he wanted to leave the audience with the feeling of unending terror and uncertainty.
34. The locusts in the 1999 film, The Mummy, were mostly computer-generated, however, some live grasshoppers were used. Hours before filming they were chilled in a refrigerator to make them more sluggish.
35. The average shot length in the film Vertigo is 6.7 seconds.
36. The permanent set in Stage 28 was created to be a replica of the landmark The Paris Opera House, for the classic film, The Phantom of the Opera.
37. When you hear the sound of the crowd cheering, “Spartacus! Spartacus!” in the movie Spartacus, it was actually a pre-taped recording from a 1959 football game at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium.
38. The final speech by Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird was done in one take.
39. The diner in the movie The Sting is the same diner interior used in Back to the Future.
40. The title of the film Streets of Fire starring Michael Paré and Diane Lane, was drawn from a Bruce Springsteen song, from his album Darkness on the Edge of Town. The song, unfortunately, does not appear in the film.
41. 1920’s Shipwrecked Among Cannibals was the first film to gross $1,000,000 for Universal.
42. Prominent Universal Director Edward Laemmle was the nephew of Universal Founder Carl Laemmle. He directed over 60 films (including shorts) for Universal.
43. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein is only the second time Bela Lugosi would play “Dracula” in a feature film. (He played other vampires in the interim, but not Dracula.)
44. In 1973’s High Plains Drifter starring Clint Eastwood, one of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.
45. In 1992’s Scent of Woman, Al Pacino repeatedly shouts “Hoo-ah.” “Hoo-ah” comes from the military acronym “HUA” which stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.”
46. The Blues Brothers “Bluesmobile” is a 1974 Dodge Monaco.
47. 1971’s Play Misty for Me was set in Carmel, CA, where Clint Eastwood later lived and became mayor in 1986.
48. “The Bride” in “The Bride of Frankenstein” is the only one of Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters to have never killed anyone.
49. Throughout its hundred year legacy, Universal brought to audiences the first films of talents such as John Ford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Norman Jewison, Ben Stiller, Robert Zemeckis, John Hughes, Amy Heckerling, Spike Jonze, Zack Snyder and Judd Apatow.
50. More than 100 million people from around the world have taken the Universal Studios “studio tour.” While the tour officially began in 1964, Universal has been welcoming the public to our studio since 1915 and the silent era.
John Frederick Milius (born April 11, 1944) is an American screenwriter, director, and producer. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Elizabeth and William Styx Milius, who was a shoe manufacturer. Milius attempted to join the Marine Corps in the late 1960s, but was rejected due to chronic asthma. He ascribes his fascination with guns and the military to this disappointment.
A former student at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, Milius started his movie career in a student film contest in 1967, taking first prize for his entry Marcello I’m Bored. Milius wrote, co-wrote or directed the films Jeremiah Johnson (with Edward Anhalt), Dirty Harry (uncredited), Apocalypse Now, Dillinger, Magnum Force, The Wind and the Lion, Rough Riders, Big Wednesday, 1941, Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn, Farewell to the King, Flight of the Intruder, the TNT feature Motorcycle Gang, Geronimo: American Legend, the HBO/BBC television series Rome, and contributed writing to the film adaptations of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger. Milius coined the famous “Charlie don’t surf” and “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” lines from Apocalypse Now. He was also involved in creating the famous USS Indianapolis monologue in the film Jaws and the famous Dirty Harry one-liners delivered by Clint Eastwood, including “Go ahead, make my day” and “Do you feel lucky?” monologue.
Through work on Rough Riders (1997), he became an instrumental force in causing President Theodore Roosevelt to be awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously), for acts of conspicuous gallantry while in combat on San Juan Hill. Milius has made two films featuring Roosevelt: The Wind and the Lion (where he was played by Brian Keith) and the made-for-TV film Rough Riders. He considered himself too much in awe of Roosevelt to do a full-on biopic of him, but says he hopes to make a third film to complete a Roosevelt trilogy – though with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming adaptation of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, that seems unlikely. Milius is writing and directing the movie Journey of Death, a modern day western starring WWE superstar Triple H and Academy Award nominee Clive Owen. He is a frequent guest on The History Channel’s show Modern Marvels.
The character Walter Sobchak in the film The Big Lebowski, made by his friends the Coen Brothers, was based on Milius.
A third Conan film, tentatively titled Crown of Iron, was drafted in 2001 by Milius, and was to be produced by the Wachowski Brothers. There was talk of either having Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise his role, or it being filmed with the wrestling star Triple H.
Milius was also instrumental during the startup of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) organization: it was his idea to use the octagon-shaped cage, and his association with UFC helped provide interest and investors to the startup UFC.
John Milius is currently working on a new HBO series called Pharaoh. Mickey Rourke said that he was in talks with John Milius to bring to life a new Genghis Khan movie. John Milius is also in talks to adapt the novel Aztec into a miniseries.